From the memory bank – Risotto

Risotto is the go to, can’t be bothered thinking about what to make for dinner recipe for me.  It’s great for using up vegetables, and since I tend to use vegetable based stocks (generally Massell), it’s vegetarian until I add meat (which I cook separately), so I can easily cook this for my vegetarian friends and family.  My recipe for risotto is probably a long way away from “traditional”, but it’s tasty and easy.

Risotto is a dish that cooks rice by absorption of liquid.  Generally this will probably take about 40 minutes to an hour to prepare depending on how it takes to prepare the vegetables and meat (if using).

Feeds 4 people


  • 1.25 litres of stock (beef, vegetable or chicken depending on the meat you are using)
  • ¼ cup of wine
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 25 grams of butter
  • 300 grams of meat sliced as appropriate (I usually use chicken, a cured sausage or fish)
  • 5 – 6 cups of vegetables (I use combinations of carrots, celery, tinned corn, tinned mushrooms, sundried tomato, leek, onion, shallots, spinach, pumpkin, fresh beans, fresh peas, snow peas, roasted capsicum, chilli, artichoke hearts, roasted eggplant, etc)
  • 1 ½ cups of Arborio (or medium grain) rice
  • ½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or less if preferred)
  • Oil (if required) for cooking the meat in


  1. Heat the stock and wine in a saucepan, cover and keep at a slow simmer.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan.  Add the vegetables to the pan and cook until onion/leek/shallot is soft, or for 5 minutes depending on the vegetables used.
  3. Add the rice to the vegetable mixture and stir until well rice is coated.
  4. Add 4 – 5 soup ladles of the wine/stock mixture.  Stir until the liquid is completely absorbed.
  5. Continue adding more liquid, 1 to 2 ladles at a time, stirring the mixture constantly for 20 minutes (you may have some liquid left over at the end).
  6. Cook the meat separately while watching the rice to ensure that it does not dry out and start to stick to the pan (this is where I utilise a helper)
  7. Add the meat (if using) and parmesan cheese to the mixture and stir through.  Cover and let stand for two minutes before serving.


From the memory bank: Stroganoff

This is a different take on Stroganoff.  It’s quick and easy to make, with total cooking and preparation time of about 30 minutes (depending on whether or not you have to slice you own meat).  I usually cook this with either beef or kangaroo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use pork, lamb, chicken or another meat of your choice.

Serve with rice, pasta or potatoes

Feeds 4 people


  • 500 grams of meat
  • 200 grams of mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 200 millilitres of lite sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil


Slice meat into strips.  Slice onions and mushrooms finely – keep separate from the meat.

Heat oil in the wok/frying pan.  Add meat and stir until cooked over a medium to high heat.  Add the mushrooms and onion and stir until the onion is soft.  Add sour cream and tomato paste.  Stir over a low heat until the sour cream and tomato paste are heated through.  Serve and enjoy.

From the memory bank – Lebanese Mince

As I’m enjoying myself in Europe, I thought I’d share this recipe with you.  I’ve been making this regularly since 1992 when I first discovered it.  It’s quick, tasty and straightforward to cook.  It doesn’t have any vegetable content, so serve with a salad or some sautéed vegetables.

I regularly put in more than ½ a teaspoon of mixed spice and cinnamon.  If you put a bit more in, the dish doesn’t suffer.

Feeds 6 people


  • Chopping board
  • Sharp Knife
  • Large frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden Spoon


  • 375 grams of pasta (uncooked) (not string pasta)
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of butter or oil (add a bit more if required)
  • 500 grams of low-fat mince
  • ½ teaspoon of mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of tomato soup
  • ½ cup water


Sauté the onions in the butter/oil, add the meat and cook until brown all over.  Add the mixed spices, cinnamon, vinegar, tomato paste, tomato soup and water.  Let simmer over a low heat while the pasta cooks as per the packet instructions.  When the pasta is cooked stir through the meat mixture and serve.

Cookbook 7: Italian Food Safari

I’m going to be in Europe for a couple of weeks as of next weekend, so this project will be on hold (I’ll try and avoid buying cookbooks, and taking them with me) while I’m there, but will recommence on the weekend of 25 August.

Anyway… this weekend was Italian Food Safari, which again taught me I need a bigger oven, a decent meat clever, and a bigger casserole dish.   The eggplant was the most popular dish of the evening, with everyone happily enjoying it (including those who don’t typically like eggplant).

Notes this time after the recipe. Please pay careful attention to the notes after the strudel.

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Cookbook 6: The Illustrated Food and Cooking of Lebanon Jordan and Syria

Last weekend was a birthday celebration weekend and so I asked the birthday boy what he’d like me to cook for him from all the cookbooks I own.  He chose the Armenian Jewelled Bulgur, and then I wandered through the rest of The Illustrated Food and Cooking of Lebanon Jordan and Syria by Ghillie Ba?an.

For these recipes you may need to find a Middle Eastern grocer, I visited Al Alamy on Waterfield Street, in Coburg in order to purchase some of the less common (for me) ingredients.  The dishes were simple and incredibly delicious.  Notes will be included at the end of each recipe (I didn’t always cook them as listed).

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Cookbook 5: chocolate

So this week, just to do something different, I picked up chocolate, by Australian Gourmet Traveller, for something different.  This time, as there were no meat dishes, I cooked 4 recipes, a biscuit, bread, pie, and pudding.  I remembered to take photos, and everything was incredibly good, though some were quite fiddly.  I’ll list the recipes in the order they appear in the book instead of the order I cooked them, as that was just a matter of convenience.  Comments this time throughout the recipe.

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Cookbook 4: Classic African: Authentic recipes from an ancient cuisine

Tonight’s meal was from Classic African: Authentic recipes from an ancient cuisine, available at second hand from Amazon. As this book is now out of print, it would appear that most of the recipes are available on the internet, so I will link to them below.

I forgot to take photos of the dishes this time, but on the other hand we timed it perfectly and everything was ready at once, which makes me really happy.  Sadly I didn’t enjoy the meal all that much, I’m not sure which of the flavours I disagreed with, but on the other hand the bread was amazing.

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Cookbook 3: Sri Lankan Flavours: A journey through the island’s food and culture

This weekend’s book was Sri Lankan Flavours: A journey through the island’s food and culture with recipes by Channa Dassanayaka (a Melburnian it turns out).  I cooked for 7 for this meal, and there are several important lessons I learnt.

  2. The serving size is an estimation at best (and often generous)
  3. Curry leaves are amazing (I already knew this) and they smell great, and they’re easy to cook with (the latter I didn’t know)

I do have a few problems with the recipes in the book, and given the number I made I am going to find equivalents on the internet and link to them because otherwise I will be typing forever.  There are times when the author doesn’t specify something important to the recipe.  For example, in the Eggplant Pickle, he says slice the eggplants thinly, but doesn’t really specify what that means.  Later, after describing how long to deep fry the eggplant for, he doesn’t specify how long to deep fry the onion or chillies for – and in relation to all the deep frying, he never specifies at what temperature.  Also apparently the Ghee Rice is enough for 4, we doubled it and had WAY too much for 7.

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Cookbook 2: Malaysian Hawker Favourites

This week was Malaysian Hawker Favourites with recipes by Rohani Jelani.  I found this book while holidaying in Malaysia, and at the equivalent of $AU 3, I couldn’t give it up, besides it had some of my favourite Malaysian dishes in it.  Sadly it only has one vegetable dish, so this time I made a bread dish (roti canai) to go with the meat dish, and I made a starter.  The recipes were slightly more fiddly than I expected, and I didn’t plan my time out as well as I should have, but the meal of spring rolls, Chicken Rice and Roti Canai was amazing.  Sadly I forgot to take photos of the spring rolls because we were far too interested in eating them at the time.  I remembered to take photos of the other two dishes.

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Cookbook 1: The Food of France: a journey for food lovers

The food of France: a journey for food lovers, recipes by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell

Today’s recipes were:

  • Boef Bourguignon;
  • Gratin Dauphinois; and
  • Chocolate Mousse

The beef bourguingnon is the longest and most time consuming of all these recipes, so if you are going to tackle it, time it out appropriately.  I also have other comments about this recipe, so please note them at the end.

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